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Nov 07, 2008

Doc shares blessings with Leyte youth

By Vincente Labro - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Hard work, perseverance and a passion for education have brought Dr. Rustico "Rusty" Balderian to what he is now - a successful businessman and a patron of many poor Leyteños.

A son of a "sari-sari" (retail) store owner, Balderian went to Manila in 1971 and became a working student as he pursued a college education.

After becoming a doctor, he went to the United States, where he ran successful businesses.

Returning to the country five years ago, he opened a school in his hometown of Tabontabon in Leyte so he could share his blessings with the youth there and in neighboring towns who desire to continue their studies but could not because of poverty.

Located on a 9,900-square meter lot about a kilometer from the town proper, the Colegio de Sta. Lourdes of Leyte Foundation Inc. started operation in 2003 by offering a four-year nursing course, a two-and-a-half-year medical transcription course and a two-year computer course. A couple of years later, the school offered an entrepreneurship course.

High marks

What is unique about this school is that all the students are scholars. Aside from that, the school is also connected to the Internet despite Tabontabon being an interior town with no telephone connection. The school uses a satellite dish that links it to the wide world of web.

So far, of the 57 graduates of Colegio de Sta. Lourdes who took the nursing licensure exam last year, 52 passed. "We were No. 1 in the region and No. 9 nationwide (in terms of passing percentage)," Balderian said.

He said the school also opened the entrepreneurial course so that young people could be taught how to run a business.

Those who applied for scholarship in entrepreneurship have to present their proposed undertaking and defend this before a committee. "If they pass I finance the project, with them as industrial partners," he said.

The entrepreneurial project - such as piggery, printing, bakeshop, meat shop or National Food Authority (NFA) rice dealership - has to be undertaken individually by the student.

The condition, however, is that upon graduation the student should not seek employment but has to set up his own business in the town.

In the case of nursing students, the condition was for them to send their parents $1,000 a month for three consecutive years once they found work abroad.

The scholars have to maintain an average grade of 2 with no grade below 2.5 in a semester.

At present, Balderian is the neophyte mayor of Tabontabon, located about 20 km from Tacloban City. He is now busy with his pet project of mushroom growing that he said could augment the income of the residents.

With the slogan "8 by 12/08," the mayor has been rallying his constituents, especially the women, to undertake the municipal government's livelihood project.

As a young high school graduate in 1971, Balderian left Tabontabon to study in Manila. Because his parents could not support his studies, the then 15-year-old Leyteño had to work as a factory worker, cigarette and "balut" (unhatched duck egg) vendor, and private driver so he could attain his dream of having a good education.

He completed his Doctor of Optometry from the Manila Central University (MCU) in 1975. Then in 1981 he finished his Doctor of Medicine also from the same university. A year later, he finished his post-graduate internship from the Pauline J. Garcia Memorial Medical Center in Cabanatuan City.

In 1977, he decided to engage in business. He became a contract grower of Vitarich, starting with 100 chicks. Five years later, his poultry already had a population of about 26,000 heads of chicken.

In early 1983, Balderian decided to try his luck in the US.

Hard work pays

Arriving in Los Angeles with only a few dollars in his pocket, he immediately looked for a job and was hired as a truck driver. He was promoted as store cashier, and then he became the store manager earning $6 an hour.

In 1984, he left his job and decided to put up his own business. With his $1,000 savings he started providing gardening and landscaping services in their area.

Working alone for some time, his business so flourished that he was able to buy five vans and hire workers. With his vans and workers, he expanded his business by accepting services of dumping old furniture and other stuff.

Though busy with his business, Balderian still found time to work as physician assistant in a medical clinic in Los Angeles.

In 1985, he opened his medical laboratory in the same place. With his wife, a medical technologist, Balderian also opened a pharmacy in 1993 and a mobile X-ray company three years later. The couple also opened in 2000 the Ryan Imaging Center in Los Angeles.

In 1990, Balderian returned to the country. He set up a medical diagnostic center in Tacloban City. In 1995, he opened the Ryan Anthony Hospital in Cainta, Rizal.

With his desire to serve his town more, Balderian ran and won the mayoral race in his hometown in 2007.

Nov 06, 2008

City Comelec now preparing for plebiscite on Tacloban's HUC-hood

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- While there is no definite schedule yet for the holding of the plebiscite on the bid of this city to become a highly urbanized city, the Commission on Elections is now busy preparing for the said poll exercise.

Susan Collamar, city elections officer, said that as part of their preparations on the possible holding of a plebiscite in the city, the list of registered voters are now being prepared by them.
She also qualified that only those who voted during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections would be qualified to cast their "yes" or "no" votes during the plebiscite.

"Only those who were listed during the October 29, 2007 elections are eligible to vote during the plebiscite," Collamar said.

The Comelec is set to conduct a voter's registration next month in time for the 2010 national elections.
The city Comelec office has received queries on whether those who registered after the barangay and SK elections could cast their votes for the HUC bid of this city.

Based on the October 29, 2007 listing of the city Comelec, Tacloban has total registered voters of 107,078.

City elections officer Collamar also said that she already made a communication the administrator of the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) to allow them to use some of its classrooms during the plebiscite.

She said that all schools used during previous elections would still be used for the plebiscite. The request for the use of some school rooms of EVSU was just part of their contingency plan, Collamar said.

As she said this, the city elections officer clarified that the Comelec has yet to schedule the holding of the plebiscite for the HUC bid of Tacloban.

Earlier, Mayor Alfred Romualdez announced that the plebiscite was tentatively scheduled by the Comelec on December 6.

The Comelec has to decide up to February 4, 2009 whether a plebiscite would be conducted. The said date is within the 120 days mentioned on the proclamation issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo declaring Tacloban as an HUC.

The presidential proclamation, however, has to be validated through a plebiscite called for this purpose.
The city government had allocated around P 7 million for this purpose.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said that the funding came from the savings of the 26 departments of the city government.

"And may I just clarify that I did not asked the heads of these departments to set aside their savings. They volunteered," Romualdez said.

"But we have enough money to fund for the plebiscite," he added.

Nov 06, 2008

More supporters to Tacloban City's bid to become HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city (HUC) has won the endorsement of the top official of the population office and the chief executive of a neighboring town.

In separate interviews, Population Commission (POPCOM) OIC-Regional Director Susan Tejada and Palo Mayor Teodoro "Teddy" Sevilla both declared their strong support to the bid of Tacloban to become the region's first and the nation's 34th HUC..

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. But the declaration has to be validated through a plebiscite whether or not the city's residents would want for Tacloban to be reclassified into an HUC. The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on December 6 this year.

"There are advantages and disadvantages regarding this. But as they say and I also believed, development is non-negotiable. Ine nga development efforts hit city diri ini maiistop kay para man ini hit kaupayan hit mga tawo. Personally, I am for this and I support the bid of the city," Tejada said.

"If they (the people of Tacloban) believe that makakaupay ini ha ira, then they should vote "yes" in the coming plebiscite," she added.

In a chance interview, Mayor Sevilla likewise expressed his backing to the city's bid.

"As I have stated in prior interviews, I strongly support the bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city. HUC-hood would bring more progress the city, and that would be beneficial to neighboring towns, especially Palo," Sevilla stressed.

Tejada and Sevilla's statements of support came in the wake of endorsements of the city's bid by various organizations, political leaders, and top officials of different national agencies in Region 8.

Among those that have endorsed the city's bid were the Regional Development Council (RDC) Representatives Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte and Glenn Chong of Biliran, Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Mayor Hilario Caadan of Tolosa, Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) Regional Director Arturo Gabrieles, Leyte Senior Board Member Carlo Loreto, Board Member Wilson Uy, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director William Paler, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) RD Forter Puguon, and Department of Trade and Industry Provincial Director Desiderio Belas.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is pushing for the reclassification of Tacloban to become an HUC on the ground that it would attract more investors and bring more development and progress to the city.

Nov 06, 2008

Tacloban consumers dismayed over no price decrease in basic commodities

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

Amidst the continuous price rollback in oil products, consumers in the region have been expecting a rollback in the prices of basic commodities.

The office of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Leyte, said however that it would not be possible as of this moment especially that Christmas time is fast approaching.

"I think price rollback would be impossible as of this moment. This is the time wherein most of the traders and business people would take advantage of the season, which is a shopping season too," Moriis Wendell Gicain of DTI told ABS-CBN News.

Because of this, consumers were dismayed that prices would not decrease, which for them is a burden even though oil prices gone down. Some said they are worried that they would not have a bountiful Christmas this year.

Nov 05, 2008

City population prepares programs intended for HUC

By Rhonna Rubie A. Rona

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city population office is now preparing for programs in response to the growing population by the time Tacloban becomes a highly urbanized city HUC.

To recall, it was August 2007 census when Tacloban City qualified in terms of population for a highly urbanized city, it just also happened that Tacloban is only one of the cities in Region 8 which has reached the qualification of 200,000 population for the HUC category for its recorded figure of 217,199 based on the recent census conducted last year.

According to Cielito Esquibel, population program officer IV of City Population Office, said their programs are geared for the growing population as part of the urbanization most especially now that Tacloban is a candidate for HUC.

"We have been doing the preparation ever since, even if we don't become HUC because population is growing so our programs as of now, part of it is our preparation like the reproductive health and family planning program, is a part of the preparation because even if the population increases, as long as there is good management among families, it could address, to avoid a bigger problem," Esquibel said.

"We have also programs for youth especially on values so that they will avoid early marriage and at the same time they would be ready in the future when they build their own family," she added.

She also stressed that becoming an HUC will be a sign of development for Tacloban most especially that opportunities such as assistance from the national government would go directly to Tacloban that can later on address the problems that the city is now facing.

"This is a blessing for Taclobanons, a blessing for the city because HUC means development and progress and as a Taclobanon we should be proud if we became HUC. All I can say now is that I hope all of us will be united in supporting HUC because I see no negative here. I hope that they will not put political color because this is part of development for the city, said Esquibel.

Nov 04, 2008

HUC gets boost from 3 high government officials in EV

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The bid of Tacloban to become the region's first and the nation's 34th highly-urbanized city (HUC) got a boost from another solon from this region and the top regional officials of the labor and parole offices.

Southern Leyte Representative Roger "Oging" Mercado, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Forter Puguon, and Arturo Gabrieles, regional chief of the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) all expressed their support to the reclassification of the city into an HUC.

Their statements of support came in the wake of endorsements of the city's bid by Representatives Glenn Chong of the Lone District of Biliran and Emil Ong of the 2nd District of Northern Samar.

"Maganda pala. There are many advantages to it. Ok tayo dyan," Mercado stressed in a text message.
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is pushing the city's bid, pointed out that reclassification will result in more investors coming to Tacloban and other parts of the region, bigger Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share for the city, creation of a lone congressional district, and additional departments that can tackle better problems faced by the city and its residents.

Reached through his mobile phone, DOLE RD Puguon reiterated his support to the move, as he sees that it will boost employment, not only in the city, but also in other parts of the region.

"As I expressed earlier, DOLE's concern is its positive impact on employment in the city, which may likely "cascade" to the region in general," Puguon stressed.

In a separate interview, RD Gabrieles of PPA also came out in favor of the city's bid.

"There are many advantages to it, which I believe would be beneficial to our "clients" and employees, many of whom are from this city," Gabrieles said.

He added by appealing to city residents to go out and support the city's bid in the coming plebiscite.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already proclaimed Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite by the city's qualified voters. The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on Dec. 6 this year.

Nov 04, 2008

Teletech Co. soon to open branch office in the city

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- City Mayor Alfred Romualdez revealed that one of the biggest call center companies of United States is set to establish its branch in the city.

The Teletech Company is to put up its offices near the soon to open Robinson's Mall with an initial work force of 700, Romualdez said.

"The coming of the Teletech in the city could well provide employment for our people. They will initially hire 700 people for their first operations," the city mayor added.

Romualdez, however, could not say as to how much investments the company would be bringing in to the city for its business operations here.

The Teletech is said to build its own offices after the construction of the Robinsons Mall is completed. The Robinsons Mall, which is located along Marasbaras area, is projected to open for business early next year.

The opening of one of the country's biggest mall operators in the city is also expected to generate employment.

If this would materialized, the Teletech, one of the leading global business processing outsources, would be the second to relocate in the region. Earlier, the APAC Customer Services is also set to start its operations at the Palo- based Leyte Academic Center with an initial work force of about 700.

Based on its website, the Teletech Company offers its services to complex customer management; direct sales and marketing; recruitment, staffing and workforce management and loan processing, among others.

It has been in operations in the country for years now with branches in Metro Manila, Cebu, Bacolod and Davao cities. It also operates in 16 other countries aside from the United States.

Mayor Romualdez said that during his initial talks with the officials of the Teletech, he made it a point to give priority applicants from the city.

"In fact, I am coordinating with our council members to draw an ordinance wherein establishments doing business in the city will hire or give priority those coming from the city," he said.

The city mayor said that companies like the Teletech would not find any problem in hiring people for their operations. "We have the right people here. In fact, I was informed by the Teletech (officials) that many of their personnel came from here," Romualdez said.

Meantime, Mayor Romualdez said that he expects more and more investors would be relocating in the city in the next few years.

"I can see that the growth of Tacloban will be tremendous in the next 10 to 15 years," he said.
Thus, he said, this early, his administration is laying the necessary plans to make Tacloban more competitive.

Nov 04, 2008

Gov. Petilla: City gov't's role in Palarong Pambansa remains unclear

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- With barely few months away before the 2009 Palarong Pambansa, the role of the city government here in this national sports event had remained unclear.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla said that they have not asked any assistance from the city government believing that the latter openly voiced out their opposition of holding the event in the city.

"How can you involve them (city government) if they are against it? They have to really believe first that this event is good for both the province and city," the governor said in a recent media interview.

For his part, Mayor Alfred Romualdez said that they've been discouraged to take part in the preparation since their involvement has not been considered even during the bidding process.

"They held bidding but they have not given us copy (of documents). What's the role of the city government here? They're supposed to coordinate with us" Romualdez told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
"I doubt that the province will ask for help because they won't engage in this thing if they have no resources."

In an earlier media interaction, the city mayor admitted that they have no choice but to extend assistance in terms of peace and order during this biggest national sports event.

Petilla pointed out that his office will acknowledge the city government's support if the latter is ready to offer help. "We're more than willing to actually involve (the city government) because we prefer that they're around."

Romualdez claimed that they were not given any assignment by the provincial government during a recent committee meeting even if the city government sent Bernardita Valenzuela, action officer of the city mayor as representative.

"They did not seek our assistance. It's hard to support if we don't know about it... I will help whatever help we can but they have to specify what kind of help," he claimed.

It can be recalled that the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa was mixed up with controversy when Mayor Romualdez wrote a letter to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus informing him that the city government was not inclined in co-hosting the sports events.

His opposition was based on the ground that the province is not as rich as other Visayas provinces that would have to spend multi-million pesos to upgrade the existing sports facilities. The city's chief executive stressed that it is wiser to use the money for basic services.

The Palarong Pambansa, held for the first time in Eastern Visayas in 1983, will be staged at the Leyte Sports Development Complex (BR Sports Complex) from April 26 to May 2, 2009.

The provincial government has allocated about P50 million to finance upgrading the sports complex like its bleachers, track and field oval and swimming pool as well. Public schools will also be renovated that will serve as billeting spaces among participating delegations.

In his recent visit to this city, Education Undersecretary Ramon Bacani disclosed that the central government would spend around P100 million that would be used for the travel, uniforms and food allowances for the participating delegates coming from 17 regions of the country.

Nov 04, 2008

City gov't plans for HUC

By Jenny Lou P. Ty

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city government here is already making plans for the highly urbanization of this city.

Even before the Presidential Proclamation 1637 declaring Tacloban City as Highly Urbanized City, the city government has already made certain preparations for HUC.

"The City Mayor has already anticipated the influx of people in the city that is why we already have our traffic lights and already made rerouting," Atty. Sergio Sumayod, city legal officer, stated.

With regard to the issues concerning HUC, Atty. Sumayod claimed that they have already prepared for that. Two of these issues concerning HUC are regarding garbage and crimes.

"Just like Manila, there will be a department assigned for garbage collection alone and a different department for traffic alone. Aside from that, we are going to have more police visibility in the streets to avoid crimes, which means we are going to double our police for the maintenance of peace and order in the city," Sumayod added.

The city government is also planning to have a separate district engineers for the City and to develop an airport. Additional establishments like hospitals are also expected upon HUC such as Divine Mercy hospital and Tacloban Doctors Hospital.

"Those are things that we are preparing for the city because we do not like to wake up in the morning shocked by the sudden influx of people, so as early as possible we are already preparing for it," he added.

Nov 04, 2008

Philippine Airlines offers low-cost seats for budget travelers


MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Airlines, the country's premier full-service carrier, is expanding its market by tapping budget travelers to use its fleet for domestic and short-haul international flights.

In a statement on Tuesday, PAL said it has launched the PAL EconoLight Class, where seats are marked down by as much as 93 percent compared to the existing rates of the Fiesta Class. This means that one-way fares could cost as low as P488, all in, for local flights; and $48, exclusive of surcharges, for round-trip international flights.

The selling period starts Tuesday and travel period for the class starts on November 10.

PAL EconoLight Class is currently offered on PAL flights between Manila and Zamboanga, General Santos, Laoag, Legazpi, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog, Davao, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Butuan, Cebu, Kalibo, Roxas, Tagbilaran and Tacloban.

For Asian destinations, PAL EconoLight is offered on flights from Manila to Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Macau, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, and Hong Kong.

EconoLight Class is not available on PAL Express routes.

Passengers reserved int he EconoLight Class can check in baggage weighing as much as 15 kilos. Water is served upon request during domestic flights, while non-alcoholic beverages are served with peanuts on international flights.

Nov 03, 2008

Comelec: HUC voters can't vote for prov'l bets in polls

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The legal department of the Commission on Elections has ruled that residents of the city would no longer be qualified to vote for any provincial officials once Tacloban become a highly urbanized city.

The ruling of the Comelec was in response to a query made by Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla who sought a legal opinion on the matter.

"We submit that the qualified voters of Tacloban City in case it is converted into a highly urbanized city are no longer entitled to vote for provincial officials," the Comelec said.

On September 8, the Leyte governor wrote a letter-query to the legal division of the Comelec asking whether voters of the city could still vote for any provincial positions once Tacloban would become an HUC.

The Comelec's legal division made its three-page ruling on October 13 but a copy of which was only received by its regional office here on October 22, says regional legal officer Richard Japzon.

The legal opinion was signed by the chief of the legal division of the Comelec, Director Ferdinand Rafanan, who was once the regional director of the Comelec-Eastern Visayas. It was also signed by its two members, namely, lawyers Joselyn Demesa and Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal.

But while the ruling was categorical on the non-voting rights of the city voters once Tacloban would become an HUC, it was silent on whether any of the city's residents could still seek for provincial positions.

But Japzon said that the general and accepted principal was that residents of a highly-urbanized city could not vote and be voted upon for any provincial positions unless "expressed on their charter."

At present, three provincial officials are residents of this city which has 102,078 registered voters.

They are Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya and Board Members Malou Go-soco and Evangeline Esperas who both represents the province' first district at the provincial board.

The two provincial board members are on their third and last terms while Bagulaya is believed to be seeking for a possible third and last term as a governor.

Petilla, who is serving on his second term, is a resident and a registered voter at the nearby town of Palo.

Section 12 of Article X of the Constitution and section 452 of the 1991 Local Government Code were cited as basis by the Comelec's legal division of its opinion prohibiting the city's voters for electing provincial officials.

Based on section 12 of Article X of the Constitution states that cities that are highly urbanized shall be independent of the province and whose voters shall be deprived of their right to vote for elective provincial officials.

While section 452 of the Local Government Code paragraph c states that "qualified voters of highly urbanized cities shall remain excluded from voting for elective provincial officials."

President Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. But the declaration has to be validated through a plebiscite whether or not the city's residents would want for Tacloban be converted into an HUC.

The Comelec has yet to set a date for the holding of the plebiscite.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez is pushing for the conversion of Tacloban to become an HUC on the ground that it could attract more investors which could result to better services and programs for the city's residents.

Nov 03, 2008

2 more solons express support to Tacloban's bid of becoming HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The reclassification of the city has received additional boost after two solons from this region expressed their support to the bid of Tacloban to become the region's first and the nation's 34th highly-urbanized city (HUC).

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already declared Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite by the city's qualified voters. The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on December 6 this year.

Reached through their mobile phones, Representatives Emil Ong of the 2nd District of Northern Samar and Glenn Chong of the Lone District of Biliran have expressed their support to the city's bid.

"I support the bid for Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city provided they have all the requirements of an HUC, which, I believed, it has qualified, having attained the requirement under the Local Government Code. Also, that would definitely enhance progress for the people of Tacloban," Ong stressed.

A city could be reclassified into a HUC if its income is at least P100 million with a population of at least 200,000. Tacloban has more than 217,000 people based on the latest population census and with an annual income of over P500 million.

"But it is for the people of Tacloban to decide on a plebiscite," added Ong, who also served as Presidential Assistant for Region 8 during the time of former President Joseph Estrada.
Pointing out that it is the regional capital and that advantages far outweigh disadvantages, Rep. Chong also came out in support of the city's bid.

"There are a number of benefits that come with the classification of a city as highly urbanized. I believed that Tacloban, being the regional capital, and after weighing the positive and negative effects, deserves such classification," Chong said.

HUC-hood, accordingly, will result in more investors coming to Tacloban and other parts of the region, bigger Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of the city, creation of a lone congressional district, and additional departments that can tackle better problems faced by the city and its residents.

The show of support of the two congressmen came in the heels of public endorsements of the city's bid by various organizations, political leaders, and head of national agencies from this city and other parts of the region.

Earlier, the city's bid garnered the support of League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), Regional Development Council (RDC), City Mayors Maloney Samaco of Maasin, Coefredo "Tekwa" Uy, Mel Senen Sarmiento of Calbayog, Mayor Hilario Caadan of Tolosa, Leyte Senior Board Member Carlo Loreto, and Board Member Wilson Uy.

Also expressing their support were Director Forter Puguon of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office 8, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director William Paler, and Department of Trade and Industry Provincial Director Desiderio Belas.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is pushing for the conversion of Tacloban and become the country's 34th HUC on the ground that it would help attract more investors to the city that would generate income and employment to its people.

Nov 03, 2008

Mudcrab fattening project flourishing

By Rhonna Rubie A. Rona

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city livelihood project on mud crab fattening production industry at Burayan, this city, is now a flourishing project.

Norman Uyvico, fishery livelihood coordinator said, "as of their recent monitoring, we found out that it has already more or less 900 mudcrab crablets. We also found out that they are now laying more eggs and they are bigger than before."

"These mud crabs are more seen at night during high tides. We are even planning to visit it one of these days and we have observed that the caretakers of this project are really doing something that is why it is growing," Uyvico said.

The group, which is in charge of this project, is the Cancabato Bay Mangroves Mudcrab Producer's Cooperative composed of 30 members as of now.

The cooperative will hopefully expand and will be accepting additional members to sustain the project and at the same time its members to have a bigger project.

This program is in coordination with the City cooperative office, City Agriculturists office, City ENRO and of course with the City Mayor's office, which aims to give livelihood among Taclobanons.

"We are hoping that the beneficiary of this program would continue the program and give importance to the project because we are fortunate for having a mayor who continue to attend to its people through financial assistance to support the livelihood program," Uyvico added.

Nov 03, 2008

Commemoration of All Saints Day generally peaceful in Eastern Visayas

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Tacloban City and Region 8 as a whole observes All Saints Day in a peaceful and orderly manner, the Philippine National Police reported.

This is attributed to the fact that the PNP heightened their security measures by fielding additional security forces in the different cemeteries, together with the full cooperation of the municipal and barangay officials and the cemetery-goers as well.

The PNP has recorded no untoward incidents in the City of Tacloban, even in the City's biggest public cemetery. The people entering the cemetery were subjected to body search by the Philippine National Police in order to ensure that no deadly weapon and liquor, which are prohibited, will be smuggled inside the cemetery.

The PNP thanked the people for understanding that these measures were implemented in order to ensure the safety of the citizens who were paying respect to their departed love ones.

It was the general observation that unlike in the previous years, the observance of the All Saints Day and All Souls Day was done in a well-organized and orderly manner.

Even the Operation Bakal" where the cemetery-goers were searched upon entering the cemeteries to see to it that no bladed and deadly weapons are brought inside the cemetery premises, yielded negative results.

Also gone is the perennial traffic congestion near the Public cemetery as the PNP closed the El Reposo St. Including the Real portion to traffic. The traffic was rerouted to the Old Road in Sagkahan in order to avoid traffic at the Redemptorist Church.

The PNP attributed these positive developments to the cooperation and support of the people. The PNP also acknowledged the support of the local radio stations as a big help in informing the people on the policies for the cemetery goers.

It was timely that they were able to inform the general public through local radio stations on matters concerning security and preparedness like going to the cemetery earlier to avoid traffic delays, bringing of just the most important things needed and allowed and not to wear jewelries and most importantly to obey to the rules and regulations for everybody's good.

Despite intermittent rains, this year's observance of All Saints Day in the Region was a solemn and peaceful one through the collective effort of all the sectors of society.

Nov 31, 2008

P15-M public cemetery soon to rise in Tacloban

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A new public cemetery would be constructed by the city government next year to the tune of P15 million.
The proposed construction of a new public cemetery is included in the recently approved P1.2 billion annual investment plan of the city government for fiscal year 2009, said City Planning and Development Officer Roland Hidalgo.

The proposed new cemetery would be constructed somewhere in the southern part of the city, Hidalgo added.

“With the construction of the new cemetery, our people living on the southern part of the city could bury their departed loved ones there without going to our north cemetery,” the city planning and development officer said.

The city government, during the time of former Mayor Alfredo “Bejo” Romualdez, had constructed the north cemetery more than two years ago on a land of more than 12 hectares located in Barangay Basper.

Basper is located more than 10 kilometers away from the city proper.

The construction of the north cemetery was designed to decongest the city’s public cemetery located in Barangay El Reposo which has been used for burial for decades now.

But despite the standing policy of the city government as well as by the Santo Niño Parish to stop burial at the said cemetery in El Reposo, the city’s biggest burial ground, new burials continue to persist.

“We hope that with our existing north cemetery and the planned construction of a new cemetery in the south, this problem on congestion can be solved,” Hidalgo said.

The city has several private cemeteries which costs thousands of pesos.

The planned south cemetery is being targeted to be construction somewhere in Apitong area.
“We are still looking for a big area where we can construct the new cemetery,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo said that they have yet to find an area as big as five hectares for the proposed new south cemetery.

The city planning and development officer said that based on the plan, a big section of the planned south cemetery would be constructed for three- tiered tombs while the rest are for the traditional underground burial.

“This cemetery is designed for our poor people,” Hidalgo said.

Meantime, police authorities in the region are in alert for any eventualities that may occur during the observance of the All Saints and All Souls Day.

Senior Superintendent Doroteo Palconit, Leyte police provincial director, said that he has issued a directive to all his men in the field to secure all cemeteries in their respective areas.

Nov 01, 2008

All Saints Day: A centuries-old tradition lives on

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The centuries-old tradition of All Saints Day continues to live on, as countless Filipinos, many of them returning to their roots, pay respects to their departed love ones amid stringent police and military security measures at bus and airport terminals.

So, although not declared a public holiday, yesterday begun the exodus to the cemeteries especially to those who have to travel long hours just to reach the tombs of their departed love ones.

In fact, for many whose Offices declared a half day office work on October 31, Friday was spent travelling not to the offices but to the provinces for their All Saints Day celebration.

Even with the prevailing harsh economic times, families still find time and money to travel with loads of candles, flowers, and food to last the holidays.

Surely, there will be a mad rush to supermarkets and shopping malls, with shoppers trying to stretch the buying power of the peso, spending hours of shopping to find the lowest food items and candles at less than half their actual price their wallets could afford.

For the flower they would put on the tombs of their loved ones, families will start to crowd the districts where fresh blooms are sold at less than half the price than those found in popular flower shops and high-end flower arrangement centers.

The Philippine National Police will again have their hands full, deploying more policemen to increase police visibility, checking bus and airport terminals, guarding the cemeteries and other crowded places to ensure public safety and order.

As if those are not enough, policemen at the same time, will have to be vigilant to see to it that the residences abandoned by the occupants who are all at the cemeteries, will be safe from unscrupulous robbers and Akyat Bahay gangs, and more so, to ensure that no terroristic activities are committed.

So, the traffic nightmare will hound the commuters and motorists once again despite the hardworking traffic enforcers, the danger that wallets will be picked from pockets will be there once more, and the discomfort of being bumped here and there, by people coming and going, will begin to make people more alert again.

However, all of these difficulties, inconveniences and dangers are nothing because to millions of Filipinos, old traditions never die, not even fade away, traffic or no traffic, come rain or scorching sun.

After all, it is at this time of the year when Filipinos can share the goodness of their hearts to kindred who have gone to rest in God's embrace.

Oct 30, 2008

Plan to have barangay ID system in Tacloban City draws criticism

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A proposed barangay identification system was introduced before the city council, a proposal that right away draw criticism from various sectors.

The proposed ordinance has no bad intentions but only to help people transact their business that requires identification cards, Councilor Robert Hernandez, one of the main authors of the proposed ordinance, claimed.

"Some of our people are finding difficulties with their transactions that needs documents like identification cards. More often than not, what they present is cedula which is no longer being accepted or honored," Hernandez said.

The proposed ID system has been submitted before the city council during their regular session on Wednesday for first reading.

According to Hernandez, he was aware that the proposed ordinance would draw negative reactions considering that its national counterpart was heavily criticized. The national government has pushed but abandoned the implementation of a national ID system due to massive opposition.

"That is why since it is only on its first reading, we are open for some suggestions and refinements," the councilor said.

He also said that aside from helping the people on their transactions, the proposed barangay ID system would also help on the campaign of the city government to maintain the peace and order in the city.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city government would issue the IDs. But those who would secure the ID have to pay a certain amount, which has yet to be fixed. "But it could be between P50 to P100," Hernandez said.

The picture, name and address of the owner are among the items that could be found on the ID. Those 15 years and above are mandated to secure an ID under the proposed ordinance.

With the residents having their own IDs, signed by their respective barangay chairmen, it would be easy to discover people living in the barangays who have ill intentions.

"People in the barangays would know each other and it would be easy to identify those who are just new. But even this aspect is also being considered under the proposed ordinance," he said.

Hernandez was referring to temporary residents of the barangay for reason of work or study.

But despite the assurances of Hernandez, his proposed measure came under fire.

Castor Gamalo, Visayas representative to the board of trustees of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), said that the proposed measure could be considered to be an invasion to privacy.

"On human rights perspective, it will curtail the rights of abode and travel of our people. It can even be abused by some of our security enforcers whose records on human rights leave to be desired," Gamalo said.

Chuck Diaz, barangay chairman of Barangay 39, which is one of the biggest villages in the city with about 5,000 residents, said that he does not see any relevance to the proposed ordinance.

"We have enough number of police officers who can oversee our peace and order situation," Diaz said.
Some quarters also questioned the timing of the introduction of the ID system. Several callers to a local radio station recently aired their apprehension, saying this might have something to do to the holding of the plebiscite on the bid of Tacloban to become a highly urbanized city.

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